WOW WHAT A YEAR – PART TWO- Author Celebration!


The Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem had one of their busiest years ever in 2022! Part 1 told about our recognitions and our many happenings: conferences, book launches, podcasts, readings, interviews and more.

Part 2 tells you about our authors, their books, stories and recognitions. We had a fabulously active year in 2022, We released 8 new books, reissued more than half a dozen reader favorites and published nearly 50 short stories and novellas! For a full listing, check out our Year End Book Review here: THE MESDAMES 2022 YEAR END BOOK REVIEW.


More and more crime fiction anthologies are being published. In 2022, we edited and/or published stories in FOURTEEN anthologies. Time for a Best Anthology Award!

In the Spirit of 13, our fifth anthology in celebration of our 10th anniversary, included 23 stories by 22 Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem. For this outing, we let our imaginations run wild, interpreting spirit to mean ghost, demon, the evil in human hearts – or plain old alcohol.

Cold Canadian Crime celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Crime Writers of Canada and included stories by Melodie Campbell, Lisa De Nikolits, Blair Keetch, Rosemary McCracken, Lynne Murphy and Sylvia Warsh.

And there were a DOZEN more. (The names of Mmes authors are in the captions.)

Jayne Barnard
M. H. Callway
Jayne Barnard
Jayne Barnard
Melissa Yi
Kevin Thornton, “The Odd Event”
Kevin Thornton
Kevin Thornton
Kevin Thornton
The Adventure of the Lusterless Client by Kevin Thornton
The Victoria Hall Tragedy by Kevin Thornton
The Problem of the Pilfered Promptuary by Kevin Thornton


Catherine Astolfo

Catherine Astolfo wrote “The Spirit of St. Louis” for In the Spirit of 13. She also published two comedy mystery novellas in Twice the Chit, featuring the retired mystery-solving hippies of Chittendom Creek. And she reissued her crime novel, Legacy, in the Emily Taylor series.

Rosemary Aubert
Rosemary Aubert

Rosemary’s supernatural chiller, “The Phone” appears In the Spirit of 13.

She is working on several projects, including a compilation of her teachings on creative writing.

Jane Petersen Burfield
Jane Burfield

Jane published her spooky tale, “Whispers” in In the Spirit of 13.

She continues to work on several literary projects.

Jayne Barnard
Jayne Barnard

Jayne edited and wrote the story, “Midsummer’s Day Dream” for SinC West’s second anthology, Crime Wave 2, Women of a Certain Age. She published stories in the anthologies, Prairie Witch and Nothing Without Us Too and she penned “Rubies for Romeo” in In the Spirit of 13. Plus she reissued 3 books in her steampunk Maddie Hattie series.

M. H. Callway

Mad had two firsts in 2022: a UK publication in the anthology, Gone, by Red Dog Press and her thriller, “Last Island” was the cover story for the November issue of Mystery Magazine. She also wrote the novella, “Amdur’s Ghost”, for In the Spirit of 13, a second story featuring beleaguered civil servant, Dr. Amdur.

Melodie Campbell

The publication date of Melodie’s new mystery series The Merry Widow Murders is set for May 2023. She published “The Kindred Spirits Detective Agency” in In the Spirit of 13 and took a serious turn with “Death of a Ghost” in Cold Canadian Crime. She co-wrote “Tough Nuts” with Des Ryan for the July issue of Mystery Magazine. She also reissued her time-travel Ramona series (now in audiobook) as well as being a regular contributor on Sleuthsayers blog. Her cross-genre story, “A Ship Called Pandora”, was reprinted in Issue 14 of Black Cat Weekly magazine.

Donna Carrick

Donna is chief editor and the publisher of In the Spirit of 13 for which she wrote her chilling noir story, “Beloved Ink”. Her podcast, Dead to Writes is now in its 5th season! In 2022, she interviewed all 22 authors in In the Spirit of 13. She was also a guest author on the CWC’s webinar program teaching short story writing.

Lisa published her 11th novel, Everything You Dream is Real (Inanna Press), the sequel to her critically acclaimed novel, The Rage Room. She also published her novella, “In a Land of Fear and Denial”, in In the Spirit of 13 and her story, “Somewhere Near Sudbury”, in Cold Canadian Crime. She continued her podcast, I Read Somewhere That and participated in many interviews and blog tours.

Cheryl Freedman wrote the intriguing tale, “Possessed” about a dybbuk (a Jewish demon) for In the Spirit of 13.

She continues her work as a full-time editor.

Therese Greenwood
Therese Greenwood

Therese loves to write historical crime fiction and her Prohibition tale, “The Iron Princess” appears in In the Spirit of 13.

She works full-time to keep the people of Fort McMurray safe.

Blair Keetch

Blair Keetch had a busy year in 2022. In addition to his supernatural thriller, “To Catch a Kumiho”, In the Spirit of 13, he published “Sex, Lies and Snowmobiles” in Cold Canadian Crime. And his flash fiction, “Glimmers” appeared in the leading crime fiction publication, Shot Gun Honey.

Marilyn Kay
Marilyn Kay

Marilyn, wrote her thriller,”Rise Up”, for In the Spirit of 13. She’s continuing to keep our readers up to date as editor of our monthly newsletter, Mesdames on the Move.

She’s currently completing her first novel, a police procedural.

Rosemary McCracken

Rosemary McCracken published her chilling story, “In From the Cold” in Cold Canadian Crime and followed that up with her tongue-in-cheek tale, “The Fur Coat Conundrum”, for In the Spirit of 13.

She’s working on the fifth book in her popular Pat Tierney series, the financial planner turned amateur sleuth.

Cat Mills
Cat Mills

Cat released two documentaries in 2022, Me, Mahmoud and The Mint Plant and The Billboard Squad. Both have been featured at several Canadian and international film festivals.

And her debut mystery story, “The Dollhouse” appears in In the Spirit of 13!

Lynne had an amazing year. Her new book, Potluck (Carrick Publishing), brings together her mystery stories about the eccentrics residing at the Golden Elders condo tower. It also includes her new novella, A Damaged Heart.

Plus she published her story, “The Lady-Killer”, in Cold Canadian Crime and two stories in In the Spirit of 13: “The Trespassers” and “Gracie, The Invisible Dog”.

Ed Piwowarczyk
Ed Piwowarczyk

Ed’s supernatural thriller, “The Haunting of Mississippi Belle” appears in In the Spirit of 13. The historical Hollywood setting was a natural for a film buff like Ed.

He was also Chief Copy Editor for In the Spirit of 13.

Rosalind Place

As editor of Mesdames on the Move, Roz keeps readers up to date year-round on all the Mesdames and Messieurs’ doings.

She wrote her haunting historical thriller, “A Faint Disturbance of Hope”, for In the Spirit of 13.

Madona’s lovable crook turned reluctant psychic, Lenny, appears in a new story, “Moving On”, for In the Spirit of 13.

Madona also participated on several conference and workshop panels in 2022, most recently the Ottawa Maple Leaf Mini-Conference.

Caro published The River District and The Visitors, Books 6 and 7 of her Merculian Mystery series, featuring her detective, Marlo, of the dual-gendered planet. Her twisted tale, “The Yellow Bird”, appeared in In the Spirit of 13.

She also headed up the Mesdames of Mayhem’s table at Word on the Street, now back in the real world as of 2022.

Kevin Thornton
Kevin Thornton

Kevin, our intrepid Sherlockian, penned SEVEN tales of the Great Detective in 2022. (See the anthologies at the top of this blog for the links). And he wrote his caper story, “The Fixer”, set in Sicily’s wine-growing district for In the Spirit of 13.

Sylvia Warsh

Sylvia’s chilling tale, “The Natural Order of Things”, appeared in the May/June issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. She published the domestic thriller, “There are Always Secrets”, in Cold Canadian Crime and the darkly satirical, “Aunt Bertie Tries to Save the World,” in In the Spirit of 13

Melissa Yi

Melissa had another stellar year. Her story, “Dead Man’s Hand”, published in EQMM, was a finalist for the CWC Award of Excellence for Best Short Story. She published four short stories in 2022: “My Two Legs” in the September/October issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine; “Blue Christmas” in Crime Never Takes a Holiday; “Candy Cane Kisses” in WMG Holiday Spectacular 2022 and “The Mob Bar Mob” in In the Spirit of 13.

She published THREE books: the YA novella, Dogs vs Aliens, Grandma Othello and Shaolin Monks in Space; the story collection, Chinese Cinderella, Fairy Godfathers and Beastly Beauty; and The Shapes of Wrath, the first book in her new Dr. Hope Sze series, based on the seven deadly sins, which she successfully crowdfunded!

Her story, “White Snow and Seven Dreams” was a finalist for the Surrey Muse Arts Society’s 2022 Joy Kogawa Award for Fiction, beating out more than 300 entrants!

And her play, The Most Unfeeling Doctor in the World, was chosen by Calgary’s Stage One Festival. She performed the play to rave reviews in July at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.


Marilyn Kay
Marilyn Kay
Rosalind Place
Roz Place
Posted in Anthologies, Awards/Achievements, books, Dead to Writes, News | Leave a comment


There’s more than candy in the boxes, dear readers.

We’ve got new publications, super events, a caper short story by Rosemary Aubert and more to offer you this February.


Melissa Yi" Shapes of Wrath

Buy your copy at or support your local bookstore.

Virtual Book Launch

Join the celebration at the virtual book launch/book lunch party on February 6th!!

Mme Melissa Yi’s new book The Shapes of Wrath is now available. Read the fantastic reviews here.

The hand that wields the scalpel

Dr. Hope Sze launches into her general surgery rotation with Dr. Vrac, the scourge of operating room #3, also known as the death OR.

Dr. Vrac screams at the resident doctors suffering under him, the nurses who don’t move fast enough, the anesthesiologist, his auto mechanic, and even a garbage can.

Patients begin to die under Dr. Vrac’s scalpel.

This morning, Hope discovers a dead man in the back of the OR.

Next, a ghost lingers outside of Montreal’s St. Joseph’s Hospital.

a) WTF and b) can Hope outwit the enraged killer before someone slices her throat?

Now Available from the Toronto Public Library

Mme Lynne Murphy’s book, Pot Luck, has been accepted into the Toronto District Library as has our latest anthology, In The Spirit of 13.


Meet and learn with the Mesdames at this Toronto Public Library event:

· Come and meet M. H. Callway, Lisa De Nikolits, Blair Keetch, Rosemary McCracken

Location: Alderwood Branch, 2 Orianna Drive, Toronto, Saturday, February 25th, 2:00 to 4 pm.

·An Afternoon of Thrilling Crime: The Mesdames of Mayhem share their knowledge and experiences with emerging writers. Admittance is free.

Ontario Library Association’s Super Conference

The Ontario Library Association’s Super Conference is at the Metro Toronto Convention Center from February 1-4, 2023. This year’s theme is Walking in Two Worlds. Mme Lisa de Nikolitis will be there with her newest book Everything You Dream is Real, on February 3rd at 2 p.m. Note: This is a paid event.

Mme Madeleine Harris-Callway will attend Left Coast Crime in Tucson, Arizona, from March 16 to 19th. Panel announcements are to be made in mid-February.

M.H. Calllway


Check out Mme Melodie Campbell’s very interesting blog post in SleuthSayers about serving on a book jury. Here’s the link: “SleuthSayers: We, The Jury.”

Melodie Campbell


The Mesdames’ short story in February is Mme Rosemary Aubert‘s, “The Canadian Caper”, from our very first anthology, Thirteen.


Posted in Anthologies, books, events, Writing | Leave a comment


13 Claws Anthology

The Outlier is one of the scariest stories I’ve ever read. It was first published in the Mesdames of Mayhem’s third anthology, 13 Claws, where our theme was animals…and crime. (Carrick Publishing, 2017) And it won the Crime Writers of Canada Award of Excellence for Best Short Story in 2018.

All I can say is never trust a man who keeps pigs…

M. H. Callway

The Outlier


Catherine Astolfo

If I’d paid attention to Marvin, none o’ this would’ve happened.  For that matter, I should’ve seen the signs left by the burglar when he cased the joint. 

Whenever I take my semi-annual trips to St. John’s, stocking up for the seasons, the hours of hard driving there and back again take their toll on the old man I have become. Especially the early winter one.

 This little spot isn’t called Back Side Harbor for nothing. We’re the ass end of a narrow strip of land—technically an isthmus—that juts out into the Atlantic.

Back Side is an outport. Pay attention to that word ‘out’. It has a lot of uses here in Newfoundland. Outport family names go back many decades even though most o’ those families moved out of here during resettlement. There are a dozen villagers left, give or take. They think their shit smells good because they have those historical names. However, since none of us goes out, it’s hard to tell who’s still here and whether or not they really are a Gill or a Butt.

I’m an outlier, a person who’s come from away, so I get even less attention from any of the harbor dwellers. Which suits me just fine, since being out of contact is my goal.

I live on the hill above the harbor in a little cottage. Been here ten years now. One big room runs along the front part with a living area and a kitchen. The back part has a bedroom and a bathroom.

I have a corn-fed stove that keeps the whole place warm in winter and the windows send cool ocean breezes in the summer. No electricity, but a big old generator gives me all I need.

With such a small space to look after, you’d think Id’ve taken note that first day when I found my mattress shifted slightly on the bed. Next, the shutter in the kitchen left open. The third day, a lack of snow on the doorstep, as though it had been blown away by someone’s boot.

My excuse—I was just so damn tired. That trip to the city is brutal. I’m creeping onto ninety years old next year, if I’m still here. I can’t do three whole days away from home any more. I don’t sleep well in those cheap hotels. Everything is just so…noisy. Like a big loud cell block in a federal prison.

The day the kid arrived I was still tired from the trip. Not to mention the tasks I’d had to face when I got home.

I drowsed all afternoon with Miss Kitty. She’s a big old tabby cat who wandered by one day and stayed.  She likes to curl up on my stomach, makin’ biscuits in the blanket with her paws.

I sat and listened to the CBC on the radio. Played some solitaire. Did nothing and paid no attention, just like Miss Kitty.

Marvin, on the other hand, sniffed and snorted everywhere during those four days. He knew there was something off. He can always tell when a stranger invades our privacy.

Here’s the quick version of Marvin’s story. I was comin’ back from one of those voyages to the city when we were stopped on the highway by a rollover.

From out of the damaged back end of the truck, down the road trotted a whole bunch of pigs. They’d been hauling them off to the bacon factory.

Only Marvin made it as far as my car. The rest of the porcine escapees got recaptured, run over by traffic on the other side, or disappeared into the brush. I watched this big guy waddle along the side of the highway, head up, going who knew where. He was simply scramblin’ fast as he could in the opposite direction of that truck.

Thing is, I didn’t think about what I did. I certainly didn’t expect the result I got either. I admired that pig’s determination to get away so I leaned over and opened my passenger door. And into the old car hopped Marvin.

As it turns out, pigs make great pets. They’re clean, smart, they’ll eat whatever’s on offer and they like people. Marvin’s a bit stubborn, likes his own way in things, but so do I and so does Miss Kitty. We make a great trio.

The kid came at night, when I was fast asleep. There were three signs of his invasion that I could not miss.

First, the sound of a chair falling over (though I didn’t know that was what caused the bang until later).

Second, Miss Kitty used her claws in fright to lift herself off me, even digging below the blanket and through my long johns.

Third, Marvin made his squealing noise, a throaty, screechy kind of sound that feels like pins in your ears.

I sat straight up in my bed and, what with the noise and the cat’s nails, soon had my feet on the ground.

I didn’t need to tiptoe into the front of the house. Marvin was raising such a racket that a truck could’ve driven through the living room and no one would have heard it.  

The young guy was sprawled out on the floor. He’d obviously come in through the kitchen window, stepped on that rickety chair and sent it and himself tumbling to the floor. Unfortunately for him and Marvin, he landed on the pig.

I went for the guy without a second thought. Lifted him off my pet. Flipped him over onto his stomach. Pulled his left arm behind and upwards ‘til he made squeals of his own.

In the meantime, Marvin scrambled to his feet, still carrying on, but now he was snorting with indignation.

I reached over to the drawer nearby and got my fingers on a couple of cable ties. I soon had the asshole’s hands tied behind his back.

I rolled him over and clipped his ankles together for good measure. Then I lit the kerosene lamp.

I checked on poor Marvin, who was still mad, but he looked and felt okay.

Then I had a long gander at my intruder.

He was a young ‘un. Early twenties, maybe even late teens. Fair hair and freckles. At the moment his baby blues were liquid with fear and shock.

I figured he didn’t expect me to be home. Even if he thought I might be here, he didn’t think an old guy like me could take him down.

I put the chair back on its feet and sat.

“So, by, what the feck’re ya doin’ in my house?” I asked, using as good a Newfoundland accent as I could manage.

He didn’t struggle. Just lay there panting for a moment.

“Are you gonna call the cops?” he finally gasped.

“Not much point to that. They’re all the way over to Fishy Cove and they’re closed at night.”

I waited a moment.

“That’s all you got to say?”

The boy’s eyes were clearing. He almost looked defiant.

“I knew you’d say that.”

“Say what?”

“About not callin’ the cops.”

“Did ya now?”

I got up and stretched, feeling the takedown in my lower back and shoulders.

“Since we’re all up, we might as well have a cuppa tea and a yarn. What do you t’ink?”

My visitor had the grace not to answer.

We needed something to cheer us up. After all, we’d suffered a big shock.

I gave Marvin one of his favorite treats, a mishmash of broccoli, carrots and squash. He snorted a few times, but soon got distracted by the food.

Miss Kitty still hadn’t surfaced, but I put some tuna down in a bowl just in case.

I lit the gas stove and put the kettle on the burner. I got the Bailey’s from the icebox and poured a good measure into my teacup.

While the water boiled I took my handcuffs down and swiftly replaced the cable ties. I let him keep one hand free while the other dangled from the chain and eyehook on the wall.

He yanked on the chain once but seemed satisfied that he was stuck. He settled in.

 I pulled my old armchair closer to the wall and propped the kid against it so he could sit up.

Once the tea was ready, I sat on a chair, angled so I could see the young man’s face. We sipped in silence for a few minutes. Like he’d just dropped in for a nice winter’s chat.

He should’ve thought to dress like a mummer, hide his face under a mask. Either the guy was dumb or he was new to breaking and entering.

“You thought I wouldn’t be home, wha?”

“No, I thought I could sneak in.”

That made me laugh.

“Well, I’d say the arse fell out of ‘er on that one. You from around here?”

He shook his head. “I’m from Vancouver.”

“Whoa. You’re way off your patch, aren’t ya?”

“So are you.”

I chuckled and shook my head.

“Mind now, you’re the one come into my house. I gets to ask the questions.”

“I know who you are.”

“It’s my turn then. Who owns ya? Related to an outport family?”

“You’re not a Newfie. Stop talking like one.”

I laughed heartily.

“Reminds me of that old joke. The mother says to her wayward boy, ‘Son, why-a you do deese t’ings to-a me?’ and the son says, ‘Ma, why are talking like that? We’re not Italian.’”

I guffawed some more. I was beginning to have fun. That’s what comes from living without other humans. You are easily amused when they do show up.

I leaned over, still laughing. When I slapped him across the face, he looked as though I’d betrayed him.

“What. Are. You. Doing. In. My. Home.” I punctuated each word so he could understand me above the likely ringing in his ears.

Tears slid down his cheeks, but he was still determined to be rude and a liar.

“I needed money.”

I waved my hands around the cottage.

“And you thought I’d have lots of it hidden here on the hill above Back Side Harbor. You are dumber than I thought and that’s pretty dumb.”

“I meant…I thought I could take something and sell it.”

I smiled at him. He really was stupid.

“Like my teacup?” I held it aloft, displaying the side with a prominent chip. “How much will this beauty fetch? Was ya born on a raff?”

When I stopped laughing, I scowled and leaned over him, snatched his empty cup.

“Maybe you can tell the truth about the who. Who are you? No ballyraggin’ this time.”

I used the quiet, menacing voice that tends to encourage reluctant truth telling.

He pulled the lids over his big eyes, fear crowding out the defiance. He thought he could hide the sudden vulnerability he was feeling.


Why are there so many stupid criminals these days? In my day it took cunning and careful study of the minutiae. The ‘what ifs’, the contingencies, the back stories.

“Don’t feckin’ lie to me, b’y.” This time I must admit my voice rose a little.

 “I…my name is Brent Hillyard. I do come from Vancouver. That was the truth.”

“Well, Brent, nice to meet ya. I’m Jason.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Jaysus, idd’n you a stunned one?”

He cried out when the cup landed on his forehead. Bled like a sucker too.

I got another cup out of the cupboard and fixed us more tea. Mine got an even larger dollop of Bailey’s than last time.

I pulled out the lassy buns I’d bought in St. John’s. A rare luxury that the stupid kid in front of me, had he any manners, ought to appreciate. I was a regular Martha Stewart.

I handed him a clean handkerchief too so he wouldn’t get blood on my floor. It’s a bitch to get that stuff out of the carpet.

I munched on one of those delicious treats while he blotted at his cut. With any kinda luck, he wouldn’t feel like eating.

“Lots of people calls me Jason,” I said between bites. “That’s what you’ll call me too.”

He said nothing. Sulking I supposed.

“So. We gots the who and the why. I needs to know the how. Or did I get the why? I’ve been t’inkin’. Maybe there’s another reason you tripped all this way to the Back Side. You thought I might have some souvenirs. Any other reason?”

He looked pretty scared now. Sometimes people get that way when they’ve been hurt. Not too many of us is used to being doused on the head. Or on any other body part for that matter.

“I…I’m kind of a reporter.”

“Kind of? Either you are or you aren’t. You can’t be kind of. That’s like you’re kind of a moose or not.”

He considered that for a moment. “I work in the mailroom right now. My dad’s the chief editor and he insisted I start at the bottom.”

“Uh-huh. Now that’s some wise, b’y.”

“I thought if I uncovered a big story, he’d…well, he’d promote me faster.”

“I dies at dat, fella. You are some full o’ yourself. So you takes off work and comes all the way out ‘ere cuz you t’ink I’m a big story. Huh.”

I took another lassy bun.

“I ought to be flattered, I suppose. After all these years I’m still a big story.”

“You’ll always be a big story,” he said. “No one will ever forget what you did.”

I stood up so quickly that my chair fell backwards.

“I’m havin’ trouble believing a dimwit like you found me when no one else has. Maybe you should use those smarts to show your father you’re a hard worker instead of trying to take the easy way around.”

I stretched up and back, hands on my hips. Took a few deep breaths, in my nose and out my mouth. Ten years of perfect solitude, no fools to hound me, no idiots to spread vicious rumors of my supposed exploits.

And this goof, this lowlife idiot, had cracked the mystery of my whereabouts? I had a difficult time calming down, I tell you.

“You might as well tell me how, lad.”

I righted my chair and sat down again, folded my arms and tried to achieve a kindly old man’s expression.

“Have a lassy bun first. You must be ‘ungry.”

While he munched, he stared at me the whole time. I was a museum piece to him. I gazed right back, knowing full well the emotions I felt weren’t visible.

The boy’s expression, on the other hand, clearly displayed curiosity, horror, fear, and even a hint of defiance.

The newspapers always described my eyes as “dead.” How can eyes be dead in the face of a person who is alive? Impossible. They meant devoid of feeling. Uncaring, calm, nothing to see here. Back away. That’s what they should have said.

This boy didn’t back away, though. I wondered if, instead of stupid, he was a bit like me. He cared about nothing and no one. In his case, his sole purpose was self-aggrandizement. Maybe he was more worthy than I thought.

“All right. Hope you liked your breakfast.”

He nodded, unable to halt the manners he’d clearly been taught.

“Yes, thank-you.”

I let the Newfoundland accent slip, winding him up, letting him think he’d gotten through.

“Tell me how you found me and maybe I’ll give you a story to take away with you.”

Brent sat up straighter. He was clearly pleased and excited.

He would never make it as a reporter. He was far too easily manipulated.

“I have some connections in the prison. The last one you were in,” he said.

I nodded, though I felt like saying, “Well, duh.”

“My friend was a guard there. He got me an interview with your old cellmate.”

Brent. You broke into my home. I am hosting you with great patience. I don’t expect lies.”

“Oh yah, yah, sorry, I meant a guy who was in the same segregation block as you. You know, the protective solitary cells where…”

“I guess I know all that. Stay on point.”

He nodded, eager to please me now.

“Yes, yes, of course. Anyway, this prisoner talked quite a lot to my friend. He claimed he’d heard you say to your lawyer that if they ever granted parole, you’d go to the other side of the country, like Newfoundland, and hide out.”

Those damn cells were like echo chambers.

“Okay. So did you search all over Newfoundland for the last ten years and just get lucky?”

“Of course not. I was just nine when…”

All I had to do this time was point my finger.

“Right, right. On point. So my friend kept in touch with this fellow even after he was released. By coincidence, the guy settled in St. John’s. He told my friend that he swore he saw you in town one day.”

I sat in silence for a moment. Saw me in town? Me in my silver wig and thick glasses and beard?

There had been a few times over the years when I’d felt as though someone had been watching. When I caught a pair of eyes that lingered a bit too long on my face. I’d always chalked it up to paranoia. Damn. As they say, just because you think people are watching you, it doesn’t mean they aren’t.

“And what did you do with that information?”

Brent looked a little embarrassed.

“I hired a PI in St. John’s to look out for you. In your disguise, like the other fellow described. Kevin’s No Frills.”

“You paid a guy to sit in a grocery store all year?”

“No, no, of course not. I just hired him for the week the con said he saw you. I figured if you were staying somewhere isolated, you’d have to stock up, and you probably did it the same week every year.”

He sure looked proud of himself. I was surprised by his ingenuity.

“That’s actually pretty smart for a dumbass,” I said.

“Well, the PI was the one who suggested…”

“And he knows you found me?”

Brent looked confused.

“He was the one who found you. He followed you up here and called me to give me directions.”

“So that’s who the burglar was,” I mused.


“We had us a burglar a few nights ago. Or at least, we thought that’s what he was. Guess he was your PI instead.”

Brent nodded eagerly. “Maybe. Though I’m surprised he would come into your house.”

I shrugged. “Maybe he was after my teacup too?”

“Well, Paul, let’s face it, you are the most famous serial killer in Canada. Lots of places in the US, too. They even made a movie and some television…”

If only he hadn’t pushed. He was some stunned, that kid. Didn’t even notice the look on my face as he prattled on about my crimes. The ones I did, the ones they say I did but wasn’t convicted for.

“There are lots and lots of people who believe you never should have been paroled. There were quite a few protests against it. Did you know that?” Brent asked.

He still thought we were having a conversation.

“I did know that. I got attacked quite often, both inside and outside.”

“I read that! Can I quote you when I write the story?”

“Lad, you can quote me all you like when you write the story.”

“I can’t believe it! You are not what I expected at all.”

“What did you expect?”

He paused, a look of embarrassment flashing through his eyes. He even blushed a little.

“A monster?” I guessed. “Not a harmless old man who serves you tea and lassy buns?”

“Well, you did slap me and you threw the cup at me, but…well, I didn’t think you’d let me write the story, to be honest.”

“Oh me nerves, you got me drove,” I said so quietly that he kept on flapping his mouth.

“People are going to go nuts for this story. My dad will have to promote me and I’ll be a real reporter. Probably take over his job when he retires.”

“Do you think people will change their minds about letting me out when they read how old and harmless I am now?” I asked.

“I do. I can write it for sympathy if you like. Explain a few things if you want me to.”

“Explain that I didn’t do half of what they claimed, you mean?”

“Sure, if that’s your story, I will tell it.”

I stared at his small, petty lips with its satisfied smirk. The mouth that formed a silent “Oh” when I broke his neck.

“Well the story would be wrong,” I said to his truly dead eyes. “Once you have a monster caged, you should keep him there. Or keep him away from people. Let an outlier be.”

The silence was perfect.

Miss Kitty came out of hiding and began to lap up her tuna.

The kid wasn’t as much work as the burglar. That fella was a big bugger. Belatedly, I felt a grudging admiration for him, too. He’d never let on that he was a PI. Nor did he rat out the kid. Maybe he knew there’d be no tickets out of the harbor, so he kept himself to himself.

I figure I will only have to do this one more time when I pay a visit to my old pal from prison in St. John’s. Good thing, too. I’m getting too old for such excitement.

And Marvin’s getting too old for such rich food. I think I mentioned before that pigs make great pets. They’ll eat whatever’s on offer.

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WOW WHAT A YEAR – Part One – Kudos and Events!

Happy New Year, Readers!

In 2022, the Mesdames and Messieurs came back into the Real World via several wonderful live events while we kept busy with podcasts, virtual book launches and conferences.

And we enjoyed recognition both as a group and as individual authors!


On October 15th, Carrick Publishing released In the Spirit of 13, our 5th anthology, in celebration of the Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem’s 10th anniversary.

This outing, we let our imaginations go wild. We crafted 23 tales, ranging from comedy to noir, that celebrated ghosts, demons, the evil of human nature and even alcohol!

Our collection received a warm review from Jack Batten, in one of the last he wrote for The Toronto Star before he retired. Jack said:

There’s more than enough to light up and surprise readers for many nights of pleasure, some of it in easygoing whimsy.”


The Mesdames of Mayhem were the subject of the full-page article, “Murder, She Wrote”, published in the Saturday Toronto Star on October 29, 2022. Contributing columnist Briony Smith wrote about our joy penning crime fiction – and our warm friendship. Read the full article in the Toronto Star.


Melodie Campbell
Melodie Campbell

Melodie Campbell interviewed two of crime fiction’s superstars: Ian Rankin who was a guest author at the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference, May 24 to 28th. And Linwood Barclay on May 19th at the launch of his latest novel, Take Your Breath Away, in Burlington.

Her mentee, Delee Fromm’s entry, The Strength to Rise, was a finalist for the Crime Writers of Canada Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript.

Melissa Yi had a stellar year. Her short story, “Dead Man’s Hand“, published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, March 2021, was a finalist for the CWC Best Short Story Award.

Her story, “White Snow and Seven Dreams” was a finalist for the Surrey Muse Arts Society’s 2022 Joy Kogawa Award for Fiction, beating out more than 300 entrants!

And her play, The Most Unfeeling Doctor in the World, was chosen by Calgary’s Stage One Festival. She performed the play to rave reviews in July at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.

Cat Mills
Cat Mills

Cat Mills released two critically acclaimed films this year: Me, Mahmoud and the Mint Plant and The Billboard Squad, a documentary for Al-Jazeera.

Both films were shown at several film festivals, including the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, Calgary International Film Festival, Lunenberg Documentary Festival, St. Johns International Women’s Film Festival and Planet in Focus Film Festival.

Mme Mad

M. H. Callway‘s story, “Last Island”, was the cover story of the November issue of Mystery Magazine.



On October 30th, we launched In the Spirit of 13 at our favorite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street. It was a smashing success! Sleuth’s was packed with friends, fans, family and well-wishers.

Lisa De Nikolits, Cat Mills and Jane Burfield
Donna Carrick (centre) and Alex Carrick (R)
Blair Keetch, Lynne Murphy, Cat Mills, Lisa de Nikolits, Jane Burfield, Sylvia Warsh, Ed Piwowarczyk, Donna Carrick

A great highlight was making Sleuth’s co-owner, Marian Misters, an honorary Mme of Mayhem.

We followed up on November 13th with a successful Zoom launch, with special thanks to backroom tech wizard, Ted Carrick.

Marian Misters
Blair Keetch, Lynne Murphy
Sylvia Warsh (centre), Ed Piwowarczyk, Donna Carrick ,
M. H. Callway


Lisa De Nikolits

On November 17th, Lisa de Nikolits launched her new novel, Everything You Dream is Real, the sequel to her acclaimed thriller, The Rage Room at a fab hybrid event organized by her publisher, Inanna Publications.

And in December, continuing on into January 2023, she embarked on an extensive blog tour.

During 2022, Lisa was featured on several national and international interviews and did a reading of her work at the CanLit Authors Fest on June 18th.

Lynne Murphy
Lynne Murphy

Lynne Murphy had a fabulous Zoom launch on April 23rd for her book, Potluck and Other Stories, with participants as far away as the UK and the Channel Islands.

Potluck contains the hilarious adventures of the eccentric residents of the Golden Elders Condo plus her new novella, A Damaged Heart.

Melissa Yi

Melissa Yi launched the first book in her new Hope Sze series, The Shapes of Wrath, at the Cornwall Library in November 2022.

She successfully crowd-funded the new book as well!


Award-winning author, Mike Martin and his team brought the dream of a new national crime writers conferences to life with the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference, May 24th to 28th. Leading crime writers and guest authors were: Ian Rankin, Maureen Jennings, Vicky Delany, Rick Mofina and Iona Whishaw.

Several Mesdames moderated and/or participated on many panels: Catherine Astolfo, Jane Burfield, M. H. Callway, Melodie Campbell, Donna Carrick, Lisa de Nikolits, Rosemary McCracken, Lynne Murphy, Madona Skaff and Caro Soles.

Cathy Astolfo
Jane Burfield
Jane Burfield
M. H. Callway
Melodie Campbell
Melodie Campbell
Donna Carrick
Lisa de Nikolits
Rosemary McCracken
Rosemary McCracken
Lynne Murphy
Lynne Murphy
Madona Skaff
Caro Soles
Caro Soles
Melissa Yi

On December 3rd, Mike Martin and his team returned to put on the virtual Ottawa Maple Leaf Mini-Conference to showcase Eastern Ontario crime writers, including Brenda Chapman and Mary Jane Maffini. Madona Skaff and Melissa Yi shared their knowledge on the day’s panels.

Earlier in 2022, on March 9th, Mike and Madona Skaff held a workshop for Capital Crime Writers about the pros and cons of self-publishing, entitled Indie Publishing: A Fine Adventure or Evil Torture.


In 2020, Left Coast Crime, San Diego, was forced to close after only half a day because of COVID. Two years later, from April 7 to 10th, LCC went live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. More than 200 authors and fans celebrated its return.

M. H. Callway was honored to be on the short story panel, moderated by Lisa Q. Matthews, and to moderate the panel on noir crime fiction.


For the first time, the Toronto International Festival of Authors celebrated leading international crime writers from June 3 to 5th. Lisa de Nikolits was one of the Canadian authors invited!

Crime Writers of Canada hosted a booth with the help of M. H. Callway, Blair Keetch and Sylvia Warsh.


Toronto’s annual book festival, Word on the Street, returned live on the June 11-12th weekend, moving back to its Queen’s Park venue.

Caro Soles sponsored the booth for The Mesdames of Mayhem together with Blair Keetch and Rosemary McCracken.


The multi-genre conference, When Words Collide, went virtual for 2020, 2021 and 2022. (This year, 2023, WWC will be live!) WWC took place on Zoom from August 12 to 15th with the support and participation of many genre associations, including the Crime Writers of Canada.

Jayne Barnard
Jayne Barnard
M.H. Callway
Therese Greenwood
Therese Greenwood
Kevin Thornton
Kevin Thornton

Jayne Barnard, M. H. Callway, Therese Greenwood and Kevin Thornton participated in and/or moderated the crime writing panels.


Donna Carrick returned to host Season 5 of the podcast, Dead to Writes. In 2022, she interviewed 16 of the authors in our new anthology, In the Spirit of 13, as well as artist, Sarah Carrick, who has designed each of our five anthology covers. Listen here to the full Dead to Writes podcast series 5.

Lisa de Nikolits continued her amazing podcast series, I Read Somewhere That…

Catch up here on all 19 of Lisa’s I Read Somewhere That…podcasts.

The Crime Writers of Canada stepped up podcasting in 2022, with author interviews to promote their 40th anniversary anthology, Cool Canadian Crime, featuring Melodie Campbell, Lisa de Nikolits, Blair Keetch, Rosemary McCracken, Lynne Murphy and Sylvia Warsh.

CWC also did a series of webinars on the craft of crime writing. Donna Carrick was featured in January where she discussed the art of short story writing.



Toronto Sisters in Crime continued to meet virtually except for their annual field trip. This year was a tour of the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection at the Toronto Reference Library – a terrific evening concluding with an in-person dinner afterwards.

Melodie Campbell was the guest presenter at SinC’s March 9th meeting where she discussed humor in crime fiction in Over My Dead Body.


Noir at the Bar Toronto returned to live events in 2022 at a new venue, The Duke of Kent pub, 2315 Yonge St. Its first Queer Noir at the Bar took place on June 8th with a reading by Caro Soles. Lynne Murphy and Lisa de Nikolits read at the September 29th meeting.

A big thank you to Rob Brunet and Hope Thompson for their support of Canadian crime writers – and the Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem.


Marilyn Kay and Roz Place for keeping our newsletter running!

Marilyn Kay
Marilyn Kay
Rosalind Place
Rosalind Place
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NEWS FLASH! Sleuth of Baker Street to Retire

Bittersweet news: Marian Misters and J. D. Singh have made it official: Sleuth of Baker Street bookstore is retiring after over 40 years in business.

We’re sad because of the wonderful support Sleuth’s has given us as individual writers and as the Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem. Not to mention the joy of reading and discovering new favorite authors.

As Marian and JD wind down the business, they will still take special orders and find you that book you’ve always been looking for.

The biggest of bear hugs to Marian, JD, Pixie and Prince for all the joy they have given us and crime writing community!

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New Year Kitten

We’re celebrating our 10th Anniversary all year! Watch for monthly reprints of short stories from our first four anthologies by our Mesdames and Messieurs. We also have some exciting news and reviews to share with you this month.


The Quarantine Review‘s Issue 14 includes both Mme Lisa de Nikolits’ Everything You Dream is Real and The Mesdames of Mayhem’s In The Spirit of 13 on their “Holiday Hotlist”.

Here’s a link:


Join Mme Lisa de Nikolits‘ blog tour! It’s running until January 14, 2023. For more information about the blog tour, including dates and blogs, here’s the link.


Mme Melissa Yuan-Innes is celebrating the new year with her first publication in On Spec, the Canadian Magazine of the Fantastic. Her poem, “Needles”, appears in Issue #122, Vol 32, No 4.

Current Issue #122 VOL 32 No 4 | onspecmag (

Melissa Yi
Melissa Yi

Reviewer, Jamieson Wolf, named Melissa‘s latest book, The Shapes of Wrath, one of the best books of 2022.

Rosemary McCracken

Mme Rosemary McCracken wrote a wonderful tribute to Jack Batten, crime fiction reviewer, on her blog, Moving Target. Jack wrote his Whodunit column for nearly 24 years and he was especially supportive of the Mesdames of Mayhem, reviewing all our anthologies. Here’s the link:



To celebrate our 10th anniversary, on the 15th of each month this year, we’ll be reprinting a story by a Mme or Monsieur from our first four anthologies. We’re going alphabetically and we’re delighted that Mme Cathy Astolfo will be our first author with “The Outlier” from 13 Claws. Her story won the Crime Writers of Canada Award of Excellence for Best Short Story – and it’s one of the scariest stories we’ve ever read.

13 Claws Anthology


Reminder: Submissions for the Derringer awards open on January 1st. To submit a story, you must be a members of the Short Mystery Fiction Society by December 31, 2022. Authors may submit up to two stories and these can be their own work or those of a friend. The friend does not need to be a member of SMFS. For full details and updates, check the website.

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Happy Winter Solstice!

Shared from Joanne Guidoccio’s blog, On the Road to Reinvention, with thanks!

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NEWS FLASH! Mme Lynne Murphy Interviewed by CWC!

Lynne Murphy
Lynne Murphy

Mme Lynne Murphy is interviewed by Erik de Souza for Crime Writers of Canada. She talks about her story in the CWC anthology, Cold Canadian Crime and her intrepid adventures in the writing crime fiction.

Here are the links:



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Happy Holidays, Dear Readers!

It’s winter solstice and the Holidays. What’s more wonderful than snuggling up with terrific new books and stories by the fabulous Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem?

Whether you love cozy crime, thrillers, whodunnits, noir, Sherlockania, romance or speculative fiction, we have something here for you. Enjoy and have the best holiday ever!


Stories by 22 Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem!


Thirteen, an anthology of Crime Stories
Our very first book!
13 o'clock anthology
Our take on Father Time!

13 Claws Anthology
Cathy A’s CWC Award Winner!
In the Key of 13 Anthology
Music and Mayhem!


Cozy comedy mystery
Critically acclaimed speculative fiction/thriller
Popular cozy stories and a new thriller novella
SF/Crime Merculian Book 6
SF/Crime Merculian Book 7
New Dr. Hope Sze series, Book 1
Fun speculative fiction!

Amazing Anthologies

Stories by Melodie Campbell, Lisa De Nikolits, Blair Keetch, Sylvia Maultash Warsh, Rosemary McCracken and Lynne Murphy
Story by Jayne Barnard
Story by M. H. Callway

Story by Jayne Barnard
Story by Jayne Barnard
Story by Melissa Yi

Mayhem in Magazines!

Story by M. H. Callway
Story by Melodie Campbell
Story by Sylvia Warsh
Story by Melissa Yi
Reprint by Melodie Campbell
Shotgun Honey, Story by Blair Keetch
Story by Melissa Yi in Candy Cane Kisses

For Fans of Sherlock Holmes

All with Stories by Kevin Thornton


Comedy mystery
Book 3 in the Series, Audible and ebook

The Maddie Hatter Steam Punk Series

Deadly Diamond (Maddie Hatter)
Gilded Gauge (Maddie Hatter)
Timely Taffeta (Maddie Hatter)

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Last month was super busy and December looks even busier. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a cold winter ahead – perfect for curling up with your human and animal family and a great book!

Look for our Year End Book Review coming soon and enjoy the holidays and being together!


Marian Misters has been a co-owner of the Sleuth of Baker Street Mystery Bookstore for over 40 years. She has been an incredible supporter of Canadian crime writers and wonderful to the Mmes! Every one of our five anthologies has been launched at Sleuth.

Looking for a change from her career as an auditor, Marian and her partner bought the Sleuth in 1982. She was awarded the 2021 Derrick Murdoch Award for her contributions to the Canadian mystery community, has served as Jury Chair for the Awards of Excellence, reads lots and lots of mystery books, and is delighted to be an honorary Mme!

When you visit Toronto, be sure to visit Sleuth for the latest and best crime fiction books or to find that classic mystery you’ve been searching for. Be sure to say hello to Pixie and Prince, too.


Madona Skaff
Melissa Yi

The Maple Leaf Mystery Ottawa Virtual Mini-Conference takes place this Saturday, December 3rd from 9 am to 5 pm.

The conference features interviews with some of Canada’s best-known mystery writers and FOUR terrific panels of top authors, including Mmes Madona Skaff and Melissa Yi.

Melissa discusses short stories on the Get Shorty panel at 9:30 am and Madona talks about suspense at 5 pm on the Suspicious Minds panel.

Join the Crime Writers of Canada and Toronto Sisters in Crime on Monday, December 5th, 6:30 pm to celebrate the holidays at a virtual Festive Fete. (Event is for members of CWC and SinC only.)


Melissa Yi

The Surry Muse Arts Society announced the finalists for the 2022 Joy Kogawa Award for Fiction and Melissa Yi’s work, White Snow and Seven Dreams, is on the short-list, beating out more than 300 entrants!

Sylvia Warsh

Sylvia Warsh’s article about the Mesdames of Mayhem and our new anthology, In the Spirit of 13, was featured on the leading crime fiction blog, Mysteryrat’s Maze.

Thank you to Lorie Ham of Kings River Life Magazine in the U.S.A.

Read Sylvia’s article here:

Lisa De Nikolits was interviewed by leading blog, The Open Book, last month. She talks about the great influence late Inanna editor, Luciana Ricciutelli, had on her career as a novelist.

Lisa honored Luciana with a dedication in her new novel, Everything You Dream is Real.

Read Lisa’s full interview here.


Melodie Campbell
Melodie Campbell

Melodie Campbell’s new series, The Merry Widow Murders, published by Cormorant Books, is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Publication date Spring, 2023!

The merry widow of an English earl finds a body in her stateroom. She must solve the murder or reveal her unusual past.

Melissa Yi

Melissa Yi’s new Dr. Hope Sze series is based on the seven deadly sins.

The first book in the series, The Shapes of Wrath, launched last month at the Cornwall Public Library. It’s now available on Amazon!

Hell hath no fury like a surgeon scorned. Dr. Hope Sze must deal with Dr. Vrac, the scourge of the operating theatre. When patients begin to die under his scalpel, Hope goes into action.

Jayne Barnard
Jayne Barnard

Jayne Barnard’s story, “Lullaby at Lamas” is part of the new anthology, Prairie Witch, published by Prairie Soul West. The book is now available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

In the past, women who did not conform to subservient social norms were often called witches and condemned to death. Now women have reclaimed the word “witch” to symbolize female empowerment.

Sylvia Warsh

Sylvia Warsh had two poems published on the blog, Writing in a Woman’s Voice: “(Chilean, Afghani, Ukrainian) Refugee” and “Krakow by Night”.

And she was invited to contribute to a new blog, Shepherd for Authors. The recently established website aims to connect readers and authors. Read Sylvia’s article, “The Best Holocaust Memoirs on What Real People Experienced” here.

Rosemary McCracken
Rosemary McCracken

Rosemary McCracken, too, was a guest blogger on Shepherd for Authors where she shared news about her writing career and Uncharted Waters, the latest book in her popular Pat Tierney series.

Shepherd also asked her to share her five favorite Canadian mysteries. Read Rosemary’s blog here.


The Zoom launch of In the Spirit of 13 featuring at least a dozen of the contributing Mesdames and Messieurs was recorded for Donna Carrick’s podcast, Dead to Writes. Watch here or on YouTube.

A HUGE thank you for managing the back room goes to techie super-hero, Ted Carrick!


The deadline for submissions to the Canadian Crime Writers Awards of Excellence is coming up fast on Thursday, December 15th. For submission rules, please consult CWC’s website here.

And you can’t win a lottery if you don’t buy a ticket, but even being longlisted for Otto Penzler’s Best Mystery Stories of the Year series is HUGE! Stories published this year must be received by December 31st. Mailing address: The Mysterious Bookshop, 58 Warren Street, New York NY 10007, U.S.A.

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NEWS FLASH! Maple Leaf Mini-Conference this Weekend!

The MLMC Ottawa virtual mini-conference takes place this weekend, Saturday, December 1st, starting 9 am. Register at Eventbrite here.

Join Mmes Madona Skaff and Melissa Yi for their panel discussions!

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NEWS FLASH! Authors on YouTube!

Our Zoom launch is now available on YouTube. Tune in and meet the authors!

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Greetings Readers!

November is this year’s busiest month if not one of our busiest months ever! We had a smashing success with our real-world launch of In the Spirit of 13 on Sunday, October 30th at our favorite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street.

Our Zoom launch takes place on November 13th, but lots and lots of more exciting things are happening. Read on!

Join the Mesdames of Mayhem for the cross-Canada Zoom launch of In the Spirit of 13 on Sunday, November 13th at 2 pm EST. Meet the authors and enjoy lively discussions. No masks are required but please pre-register at


The launch of In the Spirit of 13, our 5th anthology, Took place on Sunday, October 30th at our favorite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street. Mesdames and Messieurs in attendance: Jane Burfield, M. H. Callway, Donna Carrick, Lisa de Nikolits, Marilyn Kay, Blair Keetch, Cat Mills, Lynne Murphy, Ed Piwowarczyk, Caro Soles and Sylvia Warsh.

The launch – our first real-world event since 2019 – was a smashing success! Friends, fans and family crowded Sleuth of Baker Street. To keep everyone safe, we all wore masks and kept readings to 1 to 2 minutes. Longer readings are promised once COVID is well and truly a thing of the past.

Since it was Halloween – a Mesdames tradition – everyone got in the spirit with lots of fun costumes. An especially big thanks to Mme Lisa de Nikolits for creating the wonderful loot bags!

Sales of our anthology were terrific. Lisa’s new book, Everything You Dream is Real and Lynne Murphy’s collected stories, Pot Luck, sold out!

Best of all to show our heartfelt thanks to Marian Misters, owner of Sleuth, for all her wonderful support not just of us but of all Canadian crime writers, we made her an Honorary Mme of Mayhem! More about Marian, our new Mme in next month’s newsletter.


We’ve had two wonderful recognitions. First of all, Jack Batten, crime fiction reviewer at the Toronto Star, gave In the Spirit of 13 a warm review.

Jack said: “There’s more than enough to light up and surprise readers for many nights of pleasure, some of it in easygoing whimsy.” Read Jack’s full review here:

And we were stars in the Toronto Star!

Journalist Briony Smith wrote a full-page article on the Mesdames of Mayhem entitled, “The Mesdames of Mayhem Celebrate A Decade of Dark Deeds – on Paper”. She tells about how we got started, our anthologies and individual books – and most of all, why we love working and being together! 

Read Briony’s article here: The photo is by Henry VanderSpek, the official photographer for Cat Mill’s documentary, The Mesdames of Mayhem.

The Mesdames new anthology, In the Spirit of 13, is featured in the new Sleuth of Baker Street newsletter! Thank you to Marian Misters!


A great month for Mme Lisa De Nikolitis as she debuts her tenth novel, Everything You Dream is Real (Inanna Publications). It’s the follow-up to her hit speculative fiction book, The Rage Room.

Lisa was interviewed by Open Book on November 2nd. You can hear and read it here.

And Lisa was featured in BeachMetro which named her a conduit of fantastical stories! Read the article here.

Mme Mad

M. H. Callway’s story,” Last Island”, is on the featured story on the cover of Mystery Magazine this month!  She’s thrilled because this is her first story so honored. In “Last Island”, a mysterious death in an ice fishing hut leads Danny Bluestone, a young Northern Ranger, on a high-stakes race across the frozen lands. Mystery Magazine is available on Amazon.

Her comedy story, “Must Love Dogs – or You’re Gone”, is one of the 30 stories featured in the anthology, GONE, by UK publisher, Red Dog Press. The publication date is November 15th.

Jayne Barnard

Jayne Barnard‘s story, “Crows Hoard”, a climate change thriller is one of the stories in the anthology, Nothing Without Us, Too. The publication features authors who are disabled, d/Deaf or hard-of-hearing, Blind or visually impaired, neurodivergent, Spoonie, and/or who manage mental illness. 


Lisa de Nikolits joins authors from Inanna Publications to launch her new novel, Everything You Dream is Real, on Thursday, November 17th at 7 pm. The event takes place at Danu Social House, 1237 Queen St. West, Toronto.

The real world event is free, one of Inanna’s first since COVID!

Dr. Melissa Yi
Madona Skaff

Check out the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference on December 3rd, 2022. Two Mesdames are on panels.

Mme Melissa Yi is on the Short Story Panel: Get Shorty and  Mme Madona Skaff is on the Suspense Panel: Suspicious Minds.


The Mesdames and Messieurs present at our In the Spirit of 13 Book Launch on October 30 are as follows: Blair Keech, Caro Soles, Cat Mills, Donna Carrick, Ed Piwowarczyk, Jane Burfield, Lisa de Nikolits, Lynne Murphy, M. H. Callway, Marilyn Kay, and Sylvia Maultash Warsh.

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NEWS FLASH! Zoom Launch of In the Spirit of 13 on November 13th

Thirteen is the Mesdames lucky number. We invite you to the Zoom launch of our latest anthology, In the Spirit of 13, on Sunday, November 13th at 2 pm EST.

Come and meet 18 of the authors in person!

IMPORTANT: Please pre-register to attend by emailing

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NEWS FLASH! Launch of In the Spirit of 13 This Weekend!

We’re excited to be back for our first real world event since the start of COVID. Especially since our new anthology, In the Spirit of 13, celebrates the 10th anniversary of The Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem!

Do join us! The event is free BUT masks must be worn. It’s Halloween so do get creative!

And already a great review from Jack Batten in the Toronto Star. Jack says:

There’s more than enough to light up and surprise readers for many nights of pleasure, some of it in easygoing whimsy.”

Read his full review here:

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Mesdames on the Move, October 2022

Happy Thanksgiving and Halloween!

This month the Mesdames and Monsieurs have much to be thankful for, including you, dear readers. We’re celebrating our 10th anniversary with our anthology book launch at our fave bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street, and so much more!


 In the Spirit of 13, is set to release on October 30, 2022! Join us at our favourite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto, on October 30 at 2 p.m. ET!

The Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem’s fifth anthology, In the Spirit of 13, celebrates our 10th anniversary! Ghosts and demons and booze, oh my!

For this special book, we’ve let our imaginations run wild. Does “spirit” mean a ghost – or a debunked ghost? A demon or the evil harbored in twisted hearts? Or a delusion brought on by alcohol or madness – or merely alcohol itself? Dive in and read our 23 stories to find out!

To counter the world’s dark and turbulent, times our authors have slanted their stories to the lighter side, but darkness does creep into a few of them.

We invite you to laugh, shed a tear and be thoroughly and deliciously frightened.

The ebook, In the Spirit of 13, will be available for download and purchase on Amazon, Smashwords, etc. on October 15th.


Art Taylor has a three-part series of essays featuring stories in In the Spirit of 13 on his The First Two Pages blog.

Mme Lisa’s de Nikolits’s essay about her story, “In a Land of Fear and Denial” was published on September 27th.

Mme Rosemary McCracken‘s essay about her story “The Fur Coat Conundrum” was published on October 4th.

And watch for Mme M.H. Callway‘s essay on her story “Amdur’s Ghost” on October 11th.

Lisa de Nikolits
Rosemary McCracken
Rosemary McCracken
M.H. Callway


Old woman or little girl, woman in a dirigible or woman on her death bed, woman in history or the girl next door—we know them because their experiences are ours. Well, maybe not all their experiences…

This second anthology from members of the Canada West Chapter of Sisters in Crime finds women and girls at perilous points in their lives. From real estate agents to house cleaners, school girls to exterminators, you will find a delicious array of women, some with outrage in their hearts—and some with murder—but all of them committing or solving crimes in new and imaginative ways.

The sixteen short stories in Crime Wave: Women of a Certain Age range from light-hearted to heart-breaking, and from romantic to treacherous. All of them deal with courageous women of a certain age.

The e-book can be pre-ordered now at a discounted price.

SinC West’s second anthology, Crime Wave: Women of a Certain Age, will be published on October 15th. Mme Jayne Barnard is both an editor and a contributor.

Jayne Barnard
Jayne Barnard

Mme Lisa de Nikolitis‘ new novel, Everything You Dream is Real will be published by Inanna on Monday, October 17th.

Eleven years after a world war destroyed the consumer-driven, plastic-based existence of 2055, a new order of players jostles for power. Streaky electricity, ravaging drought, a scarcity of food, and deadly Monarch butterflies make for an increasingly desperate situation.


Two of Lisa‘s novels are now audiobooks on Audible: The Rage Room and The Nearly Girl.

You can watch Lisa’s interview with the narrator/reader of The Rage Room on Innana Publications’ YouTube channel.

A Conversation with Lisa de Nikolits and Scott Pietrangelo.

Mme Melissa Yi has been very busy!

Surgery, ghosts, and murder, oh my! Dr. Hope Sze faces the sin of wrath.

Melissa’s medical thriller and debut of her Hope’s Seven Deadly Sins series, The Shapes of Wrath features Dr. Hope Sze vs. the world’s deadliest surgeon at a haunted hospital.

Check it out at Kickstarter, Sept 20-Oct 18th only!

Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine’s September/October issue has Melissa’s story My Two-Legs.

Sharp Point Press has bought the Chinese language rights to her Dr. Hope Sze crime novel Scorpion Scheme.

And, Melissa was profiled in the New York Times in August for their “6 Ways You’re Coping With a Roller-Coaster Market” finance article.


Cat Mills

Mme Cat Mills’ new documentaries, The Billboard Squad and Me, Mahmoud and the Mint Plant are blazing along the festival circuit including Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, Calgary International Film Festival, Lunenberg Documentary Festival and most recently, St. Johns International Women’s Film Festival.

She is pleased to announce that not only are both films programmed in the upcoming Planet in Focus Film Festival but she has been asked to host this year’s Master Class on October 21st at the Centre for Social Innovation on Spadina.

More information:

If you haven’t seen these two outstanding short docs, you can see them here or on YouTube.

Me, Mahmoud and the Mint Plant
The Billboard Squad


The Zoom launch for the Mesdames new anthology, In the Spirit of 13, will be on Sunday, November 13th at 2 pm. The event is free but you must pre-register at

Sisters in Crime Toronto are celebrating SinC’s 35th anniversary with a hybrid event on Thursday, September 20th, 7 pm. Members only and pre-registration is required. For more details, visit the website here.

Maple Leaf Mystery Virtual Mini-Conference takes place on December 3rd, 9 am. Registration is now open.

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Mesdames on the Move: September 2022

We hope you had a great summer holiday. September begins with a bang for the Mesdames: our last two author interviews leading up to our 10th Anniversary anthology, Jayne Barnard has a new short story and author readings by Lisa de Nikolits and Lynne Murphy.


In this interview, Donna Carrick talks to Melissa Yi, emergency physician, playwritght and award winning author of the Hope Sze medical thriller series. Look for Melissa’s latest critically acclaimed thriller, White Lightning.

Melissa also has a number of short stories to her credit, including “The Mob Bar Mob”, which will appear in In the Spirit of 13, coming Fall, 2022.

The final video of the In the Spirit of 13 interviews features Jane Petersen Burfield, author of numerous short stories, including “Requiem” from In the Key of 13, which was a finalist for the prestigious CWC Best Short Story Award.

Jane shares her writing journey with Donna Carrick and news about her new story, “Whispers” which will appear in In the Spirit of 13, coming Fall, 2022.

Check out the entire series of short interviews with the authors who make up our collective, the Mesdames of Mayhem, and our “Coming Soon!” anthology, In the Spirit of 13.

You can always find the YouTube episodes at Donna Carrick’s Dead to Writes site, under the Season 5 tab.


Lynne Murphy and Lisa de Nikolitis will be reading at Noir at the Bar Toronto on Thursday, September 29th at 7 p.m. Noir is back at the Duke of Kent pub, upstairs at 2315 Yonge St.


Jayne Barnard

Jayne Barnard’s story “Crow’s Hoard” will appear in the anthology Nothing Without Us Too, to be released on September 15th. and is available for pre-order in ebook, paperback, and/or audiobook formats from RenaissanceChapters-IndigoAnother Story Bookshop, and other online booksellers.

Nothing Without Us Too follows the theme of Nothing Without Us (a 2020 Prix Aurora Award finalist), featuring more stories by authors who are disabled, d/Deaf, Blind or visually impaired, neurodivergent, Spoonie, and/or who manage mental illness. The lived experiences of their protagonists are found across many demographics—such as race, culture, financial status, religion, gender, age, and/or sexual orientation. We want to present these stories because diversity is reality, and it belongs in literary and genre fiction.

And Don’t Forget

The Mesdames and Messieurs are delighted to announce our 10th Anniversary anthology, In the Spirit of 13: A spirited crime anthology, is now available for pre-order as a Kindle Edition and an e-Pub edition via Smashwords. The ebook goes live for download on Amazon on October 15th. Stay tuned for our book launch dates in the Real World and on Zoom.

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BREAKING NEWS: In the Spirit of 13 is available for pre-order!

The Mesdames and Messieurs are delighted to announce our 10th Anniversary anthology, In the Spirit of 13: A spirited crime anthology, is now available for pre-order as a Kindle Edition and an e-Pub edition via Smashwords.

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NEWS FLASH: Marilyn Kay Interview Is Live

This week Donna Carrick‘s Dead to Writes Podcast features Marilyn Kay, author of short stories, including “Rise Up”, which will appear in In the Spirit of 13, coming Fall, 2022.

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NEWS FLASH: Alex Carrick Interviews Donna Carrick

This week we feature Donna Carrick, author of “The First Excellence”, “Gold And Fishes”, “The Noon God” as well as numerous short stories, including “Beloved Ink”, which will appear in In the Spirit of 13, coming Fall, 2022. Donna is also, along with her husband, Alex, co-owner and publisher at Carrick Publishing, as well as the host of Dead to Writes, the Podcast.

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Attendance is FREE but you must register through Eventbrite. The Mesdames and Messieurs are on several panels!

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Our own Melodie Campbell has written her share of fantasy, funny crime capers and twisted stories. Today she shares a fairytale come true about her own life. Come listen to her CBC Radio 1 interview on 99.1 about her own happy ending with her new husband, Mike O’Connell. The interview with CBC’s Gil Deacon airs today, Friday, August 5, 2022, on Here and Now Toronto at 5:50 p.m.

Melodie Campbell
Melodie Campbell
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NEWS FLASH: Rosalind Place Interview Is Live!

This week we feature Rosalind Place, author of many short stories, including “A Faint Disturbance of Hope”, which will appear in In the Spirit of 13, coming Fall, 2022. In this interview, Donna Carrick explores with Rosalind how writing a novel has helped her hone her short stories into poetic gems.

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The Lazy Days of August aren’t so lazy for our Mesdames and Messieurs

Books, interviews and author panels are keeping us busy this month, not to mention the growing excitement of our 10th Anniversary anthology, In the Spirit of 13.


In the Spirit of 13 is in celebration of the Mesdames of Mayhem’s TENTH anniversary and our FIFTH anthology.  It will soon be available for pre-order on Amazon through other book outlets.


Madeleine Harris-Callway‘s story, “Must Love Dogs – or You’re Gone”, is one of the stories in the Red Dog Press anthology, Gone. It’s available for pre-order on August 1st.

M. H. Callway

M. H. Callway is also delighted to be a guest blogger on Writers Write. Her topic: “Why I Write Short Fiction”.

Here’s the link:

Mme Jayne Barnard’s story is part of Sisters in Crime West’s second anthology, Crime Wave 2:Women of a Certain Age: A Canada West Anthology. Jayne is also one of the editors.

 Women of a Certain Age is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Jayne Barnard
Jayne Barnard


Mme Donna Carrick is continuing her terrific podcast Dead to Writes with more video interviews with In The Spirit of 13 authors, throughout August and into September. Interviews go live every Wednesday. You can find them on our website and on Donna’s video podcast:

Check out more interviews below.

Aug. 3: Ft: Rosalind Place, story “A Faint Disturbance of Hope.”
Aug. 10: Ft: Donna Carrick (Interviewed by husband Alex Carrick.) Story “Beloved Ink.”
Aug. 17: Ft: Marilyn Kay, story “Rise Up.”
Aug. 24: Ft: Melissa. Yi, story “The Mob Bar Mob.”
Sept. 1: Ft: Jane Burfield, story “Whispers.”


When Words Collide 2022

Several of the Mesdames are on panels. The conference features leading genre writers, including crime writers, Susanna Kearsley and Hank Phillippi Ryan.

You must register for this online festival in advance on the When Words Collide Eventbrite page.

Here’s the panel line-up so far:

Friday, August 12th

5 pm EDT (3 pm MDT) Who Goes There?: Jayne Barnard joins CWC President, Hyacinthe Miller in challenging traditional crime writer tropes rooted in privilege

9 pm EDT (7 pm MDT) Friday Night Dead Social by Crime Writers of Canada

Saturday, August 13th

7 pm EDT (5 pm MDT) If the Uniform Fits: Real and Fictional Female Investigators: Jayne Barnard and Brenda Chapman join two women law enforcement professionals to discuss the realities of policing. Moderated by Merrilee Robson.

9 pm EDT (7 PM MDT) Noir at the Bar: Hosted by Axel Howerton (Tentative)

Sunday, August 14th

5 pm EDT (3 pm MDT) Crossing the Line: M. H. Callway and Therese Greenwood join a panel on the risks and rewards of switching or melding genres.

6 pm EDT (4 pm MDT) Coming up Short: Kevin Thornton joins a panel of leading western crime writers about how to create a complete world and narrative in a few thousand words. Moderated by M. H. Callway.

Melissa Yi

Melissa Yi was in Winnipeg on July 12th to teach Playwriting and Play Reading 101 at the Carol Shields Auditorium, Millennium Library. Her play, I am the Most Unfeeling Doctor in the World (and Other True Tales from the Emergency Room), which she performed herself, was a hit at the Winnipeg Fringe festival!

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BREAKING NEWS: Sara Carrick and M. H. Callway Talk Book Cover Design

This time Donna Carrick features cover designer Sara Carrick and author M.H. Callway (Windigo Fire) who share their insights on the creation of a great, eye-catching cover! It’s a fascinating listen about how the cover artist and author work together to come up with enticing covers such as the image for our new anthology, In the Spirit of 13.

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NEWS FLASH: Blair Keech’s Interview Is Live

This week we feature Donna Carrick talked to Blair Keetch, author of many short stories, including “To Catch a Kumiho”, which will appear in In the Spirit of 13, coming Fall, 2022.

Blair’s short story “A Contrapuntal Duet” was the 2019 Winner for emerging crime writers and was included in the most recent Mesdames of Mayhem anthology, In the Key of Thirteen, released by Carrick Publishing and he is now a proud ‘Monsieur’.

His story “Deadly Cargo” was included in the mystery anthology Heartbreaks & Half-Truths, published by Superior Shore Press.

Blair was thrilled to again be part of the Carrick Publishing family with his story “Sleep, Perchance to Die”, included in A Grave Diagnosis.

His latest short story is “Killings 4 Sale” and is part of the Asinine Assassins anthology by Smart Rhino Publishing (late 2021).

Blair Keetch Interview with Donna Carrick
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NEWSFLASH: Melodie Campbell’s Interview Is Live!

An interview with Melodie Campbell always delights. This week, Donna Carrick on the Dead to Writes podcast talks to Melodie about her short story “The Kindred Spirits Detective Agency”, which will appear in The Spirit of 13 Mesdames of Mayhem anthology this fall. Melodie also talks about her many humorous crime stories—short and novella length, some of her not-so-light-hearted short stories— and The Merry Widow Murders, the first book in her historical crime fiction series, due for release by Cormorant in early 2023.

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NEWS FLASH: Cheryl Freedman Interview Now Live

Multi-talented writer, editor, former executive director of Crime Writers of Canada, and writing conference organizer: Cheryl Freedman is all those things and more, including a lover of ferrets. In this podcast, Cheryl talks about her latest story “Possessed” for the latest anthology by the Mesdames, In the Spirit of 13, which includes a young woman with a dead computer, a dybbuk and a squeaky little ferret named Trouble. And that’s just the start of her interview.

Cheryl Freedman joins Donna Carrick’s Dead to Writes Podcast
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Happy Summer, Dear Readers!

Podcast interviews, author bios and notes—we’re busy preparing for our 5th anthology, In the Spirit of 13. And there’s more in August when the virtual writers’ festival, When Words Collide happens.

And now for the pièce de résistance:

Ta-da! Our Cover for In the Spirit of 13

In the Spirit of 13

Many thanks to Sara Carrick for creating this marvelous cover image!


Watch for more author interviews throughout July and August on Donna Carrick‘s Dead to Writes Podcast featuring stories In the Spirit of 13. In this interview, Rosemary McCracken talks about her story “The Fur Coat Conundrum” and the fascinating real-life events inspiring her to write it as well as updates about her Pat Tierney mystery series.


August means the When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers. Once again, the festival will be held online. And once again, Mesdames will be participating on the panels. Watch for more details soon.

The festival will run from August 12 to 14, You can register for this virtual festival on WWC 2022 website registration page.

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NEWS FLASH: Rosemary Aubert’s Interview Now Live

Another fabulous interview by Donna Carrick. This time our brilliant and inspirational grande dame, Rosemary Aubert, zooms in on her short story “The Phone” to be published in In the Spirit of 13. She and Donna also share thoughts about Rosemary’s novels, other short stories and poetry. This is the 99th episode of @DeadtoWritesPod. All episodes are now available on both YouTube and Apple Podcast.

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NEWS FLASH: Madona Skaff Interview Now Live!

Join us this week @DeadToWritesPod for Donna Carrick’s excellent interview with Madona Skaff ! Madona talks about her story “Moving On”, which will appear in In the Spirit of 13 this fall.

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NEWS FLASH: WOTS this weekend!

Meet the Mesdames of Mayhem at WORD ON THE STREET, this weekend, June 11 -12th in Writers Block, Booth #WO2.

Buy copies of our anthologies and books by authors, Lisa De Nikolits, Blair Keetch, Lynne Murphy, Rosemary McCracken, Caro Soles and Sylvia Warsh.

And in late breaking news, Lisa De Nikolits will be hosting NOT ABOUT TIME in the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE tent on Sat. June 11th at 4:30 pm.

And Donna Carrick’s interview with M. H. Callway and her story, “Amdur’s Cat” in In the Spirit of 13 is now live!

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July-August Kittens with computer and books

June is proving to be the busiest month of 2022 for the Mesdames of Mayhem with the Toronto International Festival of Authors, Word on the Street, Dead to Writes podcasts and reading events – not to mention new book publications and story sales.

And big congratulations to Cat Mills on the release of her new documentary and to Melissa Yi for winning a contest for middle-grade manuscripts held by the International Thriller Writers.


Cat Mills
Cat Mills

Cat Mills’ a new documentary for Al Jazeera launched on May 25th.

The Billboard Squad is about a local activist ‘s fight against illegal billboards in Toronto. Check out this terrific film on Youtube.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, view Me, Mahmoud and the Mint Plant as well,  now on CBC.

Dead to Writes, the Video Podcast

Donna Carrick‘s Dead to Writes podcast is now on YouTube.

Every Wednesday, Donna interviews one of the authors in the Mesdames’ upcoming anthology, In the Spirit of 13, due out this fall.

Check out her interviews with authors Lisa de Nikolitis , Lynne Murphy and Caro Soles. And in June, interviews with Rosemary McCracken, M. H. Callway, Madona Skaff and Rosemary Aubert.



This June, TIFA is focusing on crime writing. Sixty internationally known authors discuss their work and aspects of crime writing, among them the legendary Walter Mosely, Val McDermid, Mark Billingham and Denise Mina. They are joined by leading Canadian authors, Linwood Barclay, Peter Robinson, Kathy Reichs, Ian Hamilton and Shari Lapena. Tickets are available here.

The Crime Writers of Canada has a dedicated tent in the public area where readers can meet authors and buy their books. Also readings are scheduled each day! The Mesdames are well-represented both days, Saturday, June 4th and Sunday, June 5th.

Saturday, June 4th

11 am to 3 pm: Sylvia Warsh, Caro Soles

3 to 7 pm: Madeleine Harris-Callway, Blair Keetch

Saturday Readings, 6 to 7 pm: Madeleine Harris-Callway, Blair Keetch

Lisa De Nikolits

Exciting news: Lisa De Nikolits will be interviewing international crime authors, Chris Brookmyre and Antii Tuomainen on Saturday, June 4th at 4: 30 pm. (Note: This is a ticketed event.)

Chris Brookmyre is a Scottish author of crime and historical fiction, whose work has been described as Tartan Noir.

Antii Tuomainen is one of Finland’s most acclaimed crime fiction writers. His books have been translated into 25 languages.

Sunday, June 5th

11 am to 3 pm: Rosemary McCracken

 3 to 7 pm: Lisa de Nikolitis, Lynne Murphy, Rosemary McCracken

Sunday Readings, 2 to 3 pm: Lynne Murphy, Lisa de Nikolitis, Caro Soles, Rosemary McCracken

QUEER NOIR AT THE BAR: June 8th, 7 pm

In celebration of Pride, hosts Jeffrey Round and Hope Thompson present the inaugual Queer Noir at the Bar, an evening of queer crime fiction readings, on Wednesday, June 8th at 7pm.

Authors include Mme Caro Soles and a reading by actor Greg Campbell from Greg Kramer’s bestselling mystery novel, The Pursemonger of Fugu. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Register for the event here.


The Word On The Street returns to the streets of Toronto with a new (old) home. The 33rd edition of Canada’s largest open-air book and magazine festival takes place June 11-12th on Queen’s Park Crescent from Bloor to Wellesley Street.

WOTS features readings by 100+ authors and an outdoor marketplace showcasing a wide range of Canadian and Indigenous books, magazines, comics, and more for readers of all ages. And the Mesdames will be there!

Caro Soles
Caro Soles

Caro Soles is hosting The Mesdames of Mayhem booth in Writers Block, Number WO2 on northwest corner of Queen’s Park Circle.

She will be joined by Lisa De Nikolits, Blair Keetch, Rosemary McCracken, Lynne Murphy and Sylvia Warsh.


The Crime Writers of Canada 40th anniversary anthology, Cold Canadian Crime, is up on Amazon. Print copies should be available shortly.

The collection features stories by Melodie Campbell, Lisa De Nikolits, Blair Keetch, Rosemary McCracken, Lynne Murphy and Sylvia Warsh.

M. H. Callway had two story acceptances in May!

Her dark comedy thriller “Must Love Dogs – or You’re Gone”, was accepted by UK publisher, Red Dog Press for their upcoming anthology, GONE. The book will be published in November 2022.

Red Dog Press is an independent publisher, focused on great crime, mystery and thrillers from unique voices.

And Madeleine’s ice-cold thriller, “Last Island”, has just been sold to Mystery Magazine. Publication date to be announced.

The story features characters from her novel, Windigo Fire. Danny Bluestone and Corazon Amorsolo must deal with a rogue bounty hunter in the freezing cold of border town Fort Frances.

Caro Soles’ latest Merculian mystery, The River District, is now available on Amazon.

An alien evil threatens the fun-loving, dual-gendered inhabitants of Merculian. Young people are getting sick from alien party drugs, celebrated dancer Eulio is receiving menacing notes from a stalker and a body is discovered in the Pleasure Gardens.

Then on opening night, Eulio disappears. Marlo and the Regulators discover dark secrets linked to the ruthless Terran criminal and his gang who have taken possession of the River District. Can Marlo act quickly enough to save their beloved city?


Melissa Yi

Melissa Yi who recently WON the contest held by the International Thriller Writers Organization for best middle grade crime fiction manuscript featuring a BIPOC sleuth.

The prize was a $1000 scholarship toward attending ITW’s Thrillerfest in New York City, May 31st to June 4th. That’s where Melissa Yi is now, because one of the judges, legendary children’s author, R.L. Stine, asked to meet her.

And big congratulations to Mike Martin and the MLMC team for the smashing success of this year’s Canadian virtual mystery conference. If you missed one of the panels, don’t worry. As long as you registered for MLMC, the recorded sessions will be available for viewing shortly.

Fingers crossed for a Real World MLMC in 2023!

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NEWS FLASH: Meet the Authors In the Spirit of !3

Today Donna Carrick, publisher of In the Spirit of 13, the Mesdames of Mayhem’s fifth anthology, interviews contributing author, Lynne Murphy. Lynne talks about the inspiration for her two stories in the collection: “The Trespassers”, an eerie tale in which a grandmother is haunted by two small children and the light-hearted revenge story, “Gracie, The Invisible Dog”.

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NEWS FLASH! Mme Melodie Campbell and Linwood Barclay on May 19th

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NEWS FLASH! Meet the Authors in The Spirit of 13

Donna Carrick, publishing editor of The Spirit of 13, is interviewing the contributing authors. Her first interview is with Lisa De Nikolits where Lisa reveals her inspiration for her story, “A Land of Fear and Denial”.

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May is an exciting month for crime writers, but this year especially so for the Mesdames and Messieurs with new books and publications. Not to mention the thrill of the upcoming CWC Awards of Excellence and the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference, our new national crime writers conference!

Congratulations – and Fingers Crossed!

Melissa Yi
Melodie Campbell
Melodie Campbell

Crime Writers of Canada will announce the winners of the 2022 Awards of Excellence on Thursday, May 26th at 1 pm. Broadcast on YouTube.

Melissa Yi’s story, “Dead Man’s Hand”, published in EQMM in 2021, is a finalist for the CWC Award of Excellence for Best Short Story.

Melodie Campbell’s mentee, Delee Fromm, is nominated for CWC Award of Excellence for Best Unpublished Novel for her manuscript, The Strength to Rise.

Fingers crossed!

Congratulations to Cat Mills!

The Billboard Squad

Cat Mills’ latest film, The Billboard Squad, is a 25 minute short documentary for Al Jazeera Witness. It is scheduled to be released on May 23rd.

Dave Meslin is a 47-year-old Canadian activist in Toronto known for his campaigns to defend public space from commercial interests. For 15 years, he’s been lobbying the city to remove illegal billboards from neighborhoods across Toronto.

Dave has a team of volunteers, including his 11-year-old niece, who gather intel and strategize on how to bring down the billboards. They are prepared to do whatever it takes to reclaim a local green space. But as the Billboard Squad clashes with power, bureaucracy and inertia, Dave grapples with the emotional complexities of activism.

Cat’s documentary will be available for streaming on the Al Jazeera Witness website and on Youtube.

New Books and Publications!

Sylvia Warsh

Read Sylvia Warsh’s story, “The Natural Order of Things”, in this month’s issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (May/June).

In mid-May, Sylvia is a guest on EQMM’s blog where she reveals how she changed from a literary writer to a life of crime… writing.

Jayne Barnard
Jayne Barnard

Jayne Barnard‘s story, “Crow’s Hoard”, will be published in Nothing Without Us Too, the follow-up to the anthology, Nothing Without Us, a 2020 Prix Aurora Award finalist. The books feature stories by authors who are disabled, d/Deaf or hard-of-hearing, Blind or visually impaired, neurodivergent, Spoonie, and/or who manage mental illness.

Trapped in her small apartment after a flood forces everyone else to evacuate, chronically-ill Carmel expects to die, even welcomes it. But when she tells the crows who trade her their treasures for snacks that she won’t be there tomorrow, they bring her a choice she could have never predicted.

Release date, September 15, 2022.

Jayne has a second story in the new anthology from Sisters In Crime Canada West, Crime Wave: Women of a Certain Age. In “Midsummer Day’s Dream” our favorite sleuthing B&B hosts are juggling a Shakespeare on the Beach production and a painters’ retreat. But drug deals, old grudges, and a fire on the mountain spell Midsummer disaster for their fledgling business.

Crime Wave: Women of a Certain Age will be published Fall, 2022. We’ll be sharing the cover reveal as soon as it’s released!

On May 15th, the Crime Writers of Canada will release their 40th anniversary anthology, Cold Canadian Crime.

Stories by Melodie Campbell, Lisa De Nikolits, Blair Keetch, Rosemary McCracken, Lynne Murphy and Sylvia Warsh are included in the collection – a terrific showing by the Mesdames of Mayhem!

Exciting Events!

Rosemary McCracken
Rosemary McCracken

Rosemary McCracken was interviewed on May 5th by CWC’s Erik D’Souza as part of a series of interviews for the Cold Canadian Crime anthology.

Watch Rosemary’s interview on CWC’s Facebook page and on YouTube.

Lynne Murphy
Lynne Murphy

Lynne Murphy’s book launch for Potluck and Other Stories was a big success. She had guests from England, Jersey in the  Channel Islands, BC, Winnipeg, Ottawa. Many of the Mesdames were in attendance. You can watch the launch on YouTube here

The Maple Leaf Mystery Conference, our new national crime writers conference, takes place on Zoom from May 24 to 28th. Registration is only $25 and features interviews with internationally recognized authors, Ian Rankin and Maureen Jennings. Sign up here.

The Mesdames are an integral part of the conference with ten of us conducting interviews or moderating and participating on the panels.

Catherine Astolfo
Catherine Astolfo
Madeleine Harris Callway
M. H. Callway
Melodie Campbell
Melodie Campbell
Donna Carrick
Lisa De Nikolits
Lynne Murphy
Lynne Murphy
Rosemary McCracken
Rosemary McCracken
Madona Skaff
Jane Petersen Burfield
Jane Petersen Burfield
Caro Soles
Caro Soles

Here’s the panel schedule. Do join us!

·       Wednesday, May 25th, 8:15 pm Melodie Campbell, Lynne Murphy, Caro Soles are on the panel, Deadly Laughter

·       Friday, May 27th, 2 pm, Melodie Campbell interviews best-selling author Ian Rankin

·       Friday, May 27th, 3:15 pm, M. H. Callway, Rosemary McCracken and Jane Petersen Burfield are on the panel, The Big Short

·       Friday, May 27th,  5:45 pm, Madona Skaff is on the panel, Changing Faces in Crime/Mystery Writing

·       Saturday, May 28th  , 2 pm, Catherine Astolfo and Lisa de Nikolits are on the panel, Maple Leaf Murder East

·       Saturday, May 28th, 5:45 pm, Donna Carrick moderates the panel, Love with a Mysterious Twist

Looking Ahead to June!

June will be another crazy busy month for the Mesdames, including the Big Reveal of our cover for In the Spirit of 13.

On June 3 to 4th, The Toronto International Festival of Authors has invited members of the Crime Writers of Canada to do readings, sell books and meet readers.

On June 8th, an inaugural Queer Noir at the Bar will be held during Toronto’s Pride Week with guest reader, Caro Soles.

On June 11-12th, Word on the Street returns to Queen’s Park with Caro Soles and many Mesdames hosting a booth.

And on June 18th, Lisa De Nikolits will be reading at the CanLit AuthorFest.

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The Mesdames of Mayhem were delighted when the new national crime writers conference was announced. And we’re also delighted to speak to Mike Martin about the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference.

Mike is the author of the award-winning Sgt. Windflower mystery series. He is the Past Chair of the Board of the Crime Writers of Canada and a member of the Newfoundland Writers’ Guild, Ottawa Independent Writers and Capital Crime Writers.

The Mesdames: Congratulations! Tell us how MLMC came about.

Mike Martin: The Maple Leaf Mystery Conference has been a long time in the works. Ever since the untimely demise of Bloody Words, Canadian mystery authors, fans and readers have been longing for a Canadian mystery conference.

There was some momentum before the pandemic, but like all in-person events, that took a backstage to staying safe and healthy. Now, we’re back on track with this year’s Virtual conference and next year we are dreaming of an in-person conference. Fingers crossed.

The Mesdames: How did you decide on the name for the conference?

Mike: That was easy. We wanted it to be distinctly Canadian and what’s more Canadian than a maple leaf? MLMC is open to all readers and authors whether they love hard-boiled or cozy crime fiction. Our Author Panels reflect that as well.

The Mesdames: What would you love to see happen with MLMC?

Mike: Connect readers and writers. That’s the primary goal of any literary conference. Next, give readers a chance to ask their favourite author a question they’d always wondered about. And lastly, to build the audience for mystery and crime writing and whet the appetite for an in-person event.

The Mesdames: What are the big challenges with a virtual conference?

Mike: Finding ways to make a virtual event feel real for both authors and readers can be a challenge. Making it easy to register and participate on a Zoom conference platform is crucial. It may look the same on your screen, but behind the scenes, there’s lots of activity to make it all look simple. And we may lose some people who are Zoomed out or just don’t like the technology, who may have otherwise joined an in-person event. That’s always too bad.

The Mesdames: Writers First, the host of the conference, is breaking new ground for services to authors. Do tell us more.

Mike: For far too long, independent authors have been at the mercy of unscrupulous companies that promise them everything and deliver little but an expensive bill at the end of the process. We wanted to change that by offering services that are first-rate and affordable for emerging and existing authors who want to make their writing dreams become a reality.

Writers First offers a full range of services from industry professionals to help support independent writers. They include everything from manuscript evaluation to editing, publishing, distribution and marketing. All in one place. Our goal is to help writers create better books and to allow them to keep most of the profit from their labours.

The Mesdames: And please tell us about yourself and your award-winning Sgt. Windflower mystery series!

Mike: I was born in St. John’s, NL, but I live and work in Ottawa, Ontario. I set the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series in beautiful Grand Bank. There are now 12 books in this light mystery series with the publication of Dangerous Waters.

A Tangled Web was shortlisted in 2017 for the best light mystery of the year, and Darkest Before the Dawn won the 2019 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award. I’ve also published Christmas in Newfoundland: Memories and Mysteries, a Sgt. Windflower Book of Christmas past and present.

Follow the Sgt Windflower Mysteries on Facebook.

The Mesdames: How can Canadian authors and fans help make the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference a terrific success?

Mike: Tell everybody about MLMC and encourage them to attend. Social media is a great place to do that. Please like the Writers First Facebook Page and our Instagram account. Then share all the great news that some of the members of Mesdames of Mayhem will be featured authors on Author Panels.

The Mesdames: Register for the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference here. And be sure to visit the Writers First website for full conference details here.

Instagram @writersfirst


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Mesdames on the Move: April 2022


April not only begins awards season but also offers new opportunities for growth and exciting new ways the Mesdames can reach out to you, dear readers. Cat Mills has two new films, Lynne Murphy‘s collection of short stories includes a new novella and Lisa de Nikolits is interviewed as part of an international conference. And speaking of conferences, M. H. Callway is featured in Left Coast Crime and a number of Mesdames are featured in Canada’s first Maple Leaf Mystery Conference in May.


Potluck and other Stories (Carrick Publishing), Lynne Murphy‘s new anthology is now available in paperback and ebook from Amazon. Four of the stories in Potluck have been published in anthologies from the Mesdames. The book also includes a novella, “A Damaged Heart.”

The Zoom launch for Potluck is set for Saturday, April 23 at 2:00 p.m.

For a glimpse into the background, her humour and the darker side of Lynne Murphy‘s imagination, read Rosemary McCracken‘s excellent interview with Lynne on Rosemary’s Moving Target blog. It’s a virtual feast of information and fun about our Golden Funny Girl, Lynne Murphy. Rosemary also provides links where you can buy Potluck and Other Stories.


Cat Mills is excited to announce she has two films coming out!

Me, Mahmoud and the Mint Plant is a short animated documentary about a Canadian nurse in war-torn Iraq, who uncovers the secret behind a mysterious man and his beloved mint plant. The film is on CBC Gem and YouTube.

Cat Mills

The Billboard Squad is a 25-minute documentary for Al Jazeera Witness. The film won the 2020 Hot Docs Short Pitch competition.

For 15 years, activist Dave Meslin has been fighting to remove illegal billboards in Toronto. As he struggles to tear down two notorious eyesores, he must face his demons of burnout, suicide and the death of his beloved mentor.

The Billboard Squad will be released on Al Jazeera Witness broadcast and YouTube channel on May 9th.


Borka Richter, Associate Professor at Kodolányi János University of Applied Sciences | KJU · Department of English Language and Literature, interviewed Lisa de Nikolits as part of the International conference “Seizing the day: Current Research in Global Englishes”. The conference was hosted online by Kodolányi János University, Budapest.

Lisa spoke about Global Englishes in her writing, from a South African and Canadian perspective.

Left Coast Crime Conference

The Left Coast Crime conference is in Albuquerque, New Mexico from April 7 -10. On Friday, April 8th, 2:45 p.m., M. H. Callway is on the short story panel, Let’s Keep It Short. On Saturday, April 9th, 1:30 p.m., Madeleine is moderating the panel on noir fiction, What’s Noir Got to Do With It? There’s also a strong representation of members of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, including a get-together breakfast on April 9th.


The Maple Leaf Conference takes place over five days, May 24 to 28. It will be a virtual thrill for mystery lovers—readers and writers alike— with daily Author Spotlight sessions and panel discussions.

Interviewers for the Author Spotlights and panel moderators and members are now confirmed. Mesdames participating on panels and interviews are the following: Melodie Campbell (interviewer and panel member); Donna Carrick (panel moderator); Madona Skaff (panel member); Lynne Murphy (panel member); Caro Soles (panel member); Madeleine Harris-Callway (panel member); Rosemary McCracken (panel member); Jane Burfield (panel member); Catherine Astolfo (panel member); and Lisa de Nikolits (panel member).

There are more Author Spotlights, including Maureen Jennings and other leading Canadian crime writers and more panels, too. For the full program, visit the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference web pages.

Author Spotlight: Ian Rankin Interviewed by Melodie Campbell

Ian Rankin, Author Spotlight
Melodie Campbell
Melodie Campbell

Melodie will interview Ian Rankin. Author Spotlight. Friday, May 27 at 2 p.m.

Changing Faces in Crime/Mystery Writing: Moderator Hyacinthe Miller

Some unique voices in Canadian crime fiction. Mystery writers who write from differing perspectives, featuring characters who are BIPOC, LGBTQ or have a physical disability. Panelists: Anthony Bidulka, Liz Bugg and Madona Skaff.

Love with a Murderous Twist: Moderator Donna Carrick

Romance in a mysterious setting. Great love stories inside a life of crime. Maybe just a great love interest that plays a role in solving a mystery. Panelists: Hannah Mary McKinnon, Joan Donaldson-Yarmey, Linda Cahill and Amy Tector.

Deadly Laughter: Moderator Joan O’Callaghan

Can Murder be funny? Even in the tensest situations, we sometimes need a laugh or two. Crime and mystery with a touch of mirth. Panelists: Melodie Campbell, Lynne Murphy, A. J. Devlin and Caro Soles.

The Big Short: Moderator Merrilee Robson

Sometimes the best-told tales are short ones. Short crime and mystery stories have been around forever. Hear from some of Canada’s best. Panelists: Madeleine Harris-Callway, Rosemary McCracken, Jane Burfield and Alice Fitzpatrick.

Maple Leaf Murder East: Moderator Judy Penz Sheluk

Mystery and mayhem from Ontario and Quebec. Authors with tales of murder and suspense from big cities and small towns. Panelists: Michael Foley, Catherine Astolfo, J. A. Menzies and Lisa de Nikolits.

Melodie Campbell
Melodie Campbell
Cathy Astolfo
Jane Petersen Burfield
Jane Burfield
Donna Carrick
Lisa de Nikolits
Madeleine Harris Callway
Madeleine Harris-Callway
Rosemary McCracken
Rosemary McCracken
Lynne Murphy
Lynne Murphy
Caro Soles
Caro Soles

For full conference details, visit the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference site. Tickets for the entire five-day event can be purchased for just $25! Register early and get a tote bag!

Note: Coming mid-April is an in-depth interview with Mike Martin in conversation with M. H. Callway. Mike chaired the CWC for many years and is the founder of the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference.


All stories are in for the Mesdames’ fifth anthology, In the Spirit of 13. Stand by for the cover reveal, coming soon.

Announcement of the Shortlists for the 11 Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence takes place on Wednesday, April 20, 7 pm. The event will be virtual again.

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NEWS FLASH! Save the Dates May 24 to 28, 2022

Announcing the virtual Maple Leaf Mystery Conference from May 24 to 28th. Registration is open and only $25 and if you register now, you may get a cool, free tote bag. Here’s the link:

This is a wonderful opportunity to see and hear leading crime fiction writers Ian Rankin and Maureen Jennings, as well as favourites such as Vicki Delany, Rick Mofina and Iona Whishaw. There will also be an exciting array of panels focused on new and emerging writers and—of course, readers—with other noted Canadian authors. You won’t want to miss this first Writers First Canadian Mystery Conference, sponsored by Crime Writers of Canada and the Toronto Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Panel Moderators

Although the Programme is still being finalized, the Mesdames can already boast of having two of our members on Panels. Donna Carrick will moderate the Love with a Murderous Twist panel and Madona Skaff will participate in the Changing Faces on Crime/Mystery Writing panel.

Donna Carrick
Madona Skaff
Madona Skaff

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It’s a March to Spring, Dear Readers!

While the last of winter ebbs to spring, things are definitely opening up again. On offer is a yummy potluck of Lynne Murphy’s stories, an eye-opening discussion of the pros and cons of Indie publishing with Madona Skaf, Melodie Campbell’s witty and wise workshop on humour in crime fiction and M. H. Callway in-person at Left Coast Crime.


Carrick Publishing is publishing Lynne Murphy‘s collection of short stories. Potluck and Other Stories will be coming out in March.

Lynne Murphy
Lynne Murphy


Madona Skaff

Join Madona Skaff and Mike Martin on Wednesday, March 9th, at 7pm for their presentation to Capital Crime Writers: Indie Publishing: A Fun Adventure or Evil Torture? Mike is the author of the award-winning Sgt Windflower mystery series set in Grand Bank, Nfld. If you’re interested in attending, please email Madona at for the Zoom link.

Self or Indie Publishing is growing in popularity among authors. With so many publishing platforms available, how do you choose one? Should you do print, e-books, or both? How much time and money are you willing to invest on the road to success? And what does success mean to you? Our speakers tonight will explain how they did it. They will take you through a few essential steps to creating the best book that you can.

Melodie Campbell Workshop Over My Dead Body: Humour in Crime Fiction

Melodie Campbell gets called names! The Toronto Sun called her “Canada’s Queen of Comedy,” and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine dubbed her the “Canadian literary heir to Donald Westlake.” We just call her awesome.

On March 17th, members of Toronto Sisters in Crime host Melodie Campbell for her workshop Over My Dead Body: Humour in Crime Fiction.

Join Melodie as she shows you how she does it (with examples) and breaks down the various types of humour you can include in your own work or merely enjoy in your reading. So whether you’re a reader or a writer, Melodie‘s presentation promises to be filled with wit and wisdom.

Note: The workshop is for members only. Visit Toronto Sisters in Crime website for information on how to join.

Winner of 10 awards, including The Derringer (US) and the Crime Writers of Canada Award of Excellence, she has multiple bestsellers and was featured in USA Today. Her publications include over 100 comedy credits, 16 novels, and 60 short stories, but she’s best known for The Goddaughter mob caper series.

Left Coast Crime 2022: Southwest Sleuths

Madeleine Harris Callway

M.H. Callway will be attending Left Coast Crime in Albuquerque, New Mexico from April 7 to 11th. She is honoured that LCC has asked her to moderate a leading panel and to be a panelist on another in prime time.

Madeleine is moderating the Noir panel, What’s Noir Got To Do With It? on Saturday, April 9th at 1:30 pm.

She is also on the panel, Let’s Keep It Short: Cozies to Noir, Friday, April 8th at 2:45 pm.


Capital Crime Writers is once again sponsoring the Audrey Jessup Short Story Contest – Open to Ottawa and surrounding area residents. The story must include a crime.

Deadline April 1, 2022.

For more details please see:

Or email:

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NEWS FLASH: Six Mesdames Have Stories in the Upcoming Crime Writers of Canada’s 40th Anniversary Anthology


Out of 46 submissions to the special 40th Anniversary Crime Writers of Canada’s Anthology: Cold Canadian Crime, the stories from five Mesdames and one Monsieur have been selected as part of the 21 stories in the anthology. Cold Canadian Crime is scheduled for release in May 2022.

Congratulations to Melodie Campbell, Lisa de Nikolits, Blair Keetch, Sylvia Maultash Warsh, Rosemary McCracken and Lynne Murphy.

Melodie Campbell
Melodie Campbell
Lisa de Nikolits
Blair Keetch
Blair Keetch
Sylvia Warsh
Sylvia Maultash Warsh
Rosemary McCracken
Rosemary McCracken
Lynne Murphy
Lynne Murphy

For a complete list of the writers whose stories were selected for the CWC anthology, visit the Crime Writers of Canada website.